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Tips for using Karbon to manage your tax workflow
Tips for using Karbon to manage your tax workflow

How to manage your tax production system to pull in work when ready while ensuring all work is accounted for at the beginning of tax season.

Erin Jamison avatar
Written by Erin Jamison
Updated over a week ago

Managing your compliance work for business and individual clients can be complicated. However, it starts by having a well thought out work template / process to model the production system that you want. There are many different ways to do this and we'll outline some options below.

First let's show you an example of how this might look using Karbon's best practice compliance templates:

Option #1: Use statutory work start/due dates and dynamic task due dates

Scenario: Want to have fixed work start and due dates and have the internal due dates of the tasks flex with the movement of the work? This scenario keeps the Work dashboard fixed and the My Week dashboard dynamic.

Automate your work templates. Using tasklist automators, add automators after the point where client inquiry is complete or once the work is moved into the production queue for the Preparer. Use the tasklist automator that changes the Due Date for the Tasks to change to X days after the trigger action selected is complete or if the work changes to a specific status. You can have these be a waterfall set of changing dates through the sections of the work template (e.g. triggered on completion of a section) or you can have all the task due dates update based on the completion of a certain point in the tasklist (e.g. triggered on work changing to a specific status).

Note. In this scenario, the work start and due dates won't move and stay fixed to the start of the work and the required completion. However, the underlying tasks will dynamically move later in time as the work is introduced into the production system. You can specify task due dates at the start. However, if doing so, be sure to also include automators that move the task statuses to Ready to Start on the progression of the work to ensure they can be filtered in My Week to show only tasks that can be completed (e.g. Filters for Statuses = Ready to Start, In Progress). Otherwise, don't have any due dates on the tasks provided, and use the tasklist automators to generate them dynamically once the work is placed into production.

Option #2: Use a section and single task to trigger the work into production.

Scenario: I don't want my Preparers to begin work until the information is available to start.

  1. Create a new section. In between the initial inquiry to the client (e.g. individual tax returns) or between the completion of the year-end / annual accounts work (e.g. business tax returns), place a section that has a single task for the Admin or Operations Manager that enables them to "Move the tax work into production with the Preparer" once validation of all collected materials or pre-work is complete.

  2. Add automation to the subsequent section. Use Karbon's tasklist automators to hand-off and signal the work is ready to begin. Do this by adding possibly four automators to the next section that are triggered on the completion of this newly added section. One, move the task status(es) to Ready to Start. Two, move the work status to the next phase (e.g. Prep). Three, change the work assignee to the Preparer (this will auto-notify the change of work to the Preparer and move the work kanban card into their work dashboard). And, four, if needed, change the task due dates to the new deadline date for those tasks.

By doing this method, you create a preliminary review point by which to manage the flow of work into your Preparer's work production system allowing you to manage capacity but perform a quality review on the required pre-work that the client or internal team (e.g. accounting) would need to complete. This preserves the precious time that Preparers and Reviewers have during busy season.

Option #3: Create tax queues

Scenario: For larger production systems, queues are needed to manage the distribution of work as it is handed off from team to team (e.g. from Accounting to Preparers to Reviewers to Senior Reviewers to Administration to Client Managers).

  1. Create virtual queues. At times you might need to have different queues to manage teams or to manage sections of the work. This might be allocated as work progresses from Prep to Review, from Review to Assemble, or from Assemble to File/Lodge. To create a queue that you can then associate and assign work from, go to Settings > Colleagues and invite a fake user. This might be Tax Queue and send the email to a fake email address like Tax_Queue@[your domain].com. This creates a user that you can allocate work to.

  2. Create a new section and task. Go to your work template and create a new section where the queue should exist. Create a task in that section that addresses the issue like "Assign work to an available Tax Pool Preparer". Assign the task to the new fake user of Tax Queue.

  3. Automate the new section. Add tasklist automators, that automatically move the Work Assignee to the Tax Queue on completion of the section prior to this new section created. This will move the work into a holding area by which you can view and assign as it becomes available.

  4. Create a new saved view. For those people managing the queue, create a new Saved View from their Work (kanban). Choose the filter to be on Assignee = Tax Queue, and change the sliding sort by criteria to view columns by Start Date (for FIFO). The user assigned to monitor the queue can now see what work is ready to be assigned out by monitoring what work flows into the preset queue.

Option #4: Pull-in work automatically

Scenario: Not interested in having all the work be marked as Planned at the beginning of tax season? Here is an effective method to push the work out to its due date and pull in when you ready to start.

  1. Create your Work. Create all your tax work to start and be due on the same date at the end of tax season (e.g. April 15th). By doing this, all your tax work will be in Karbon with a status of “Planned” and the Work Items will sit in the “To Plan” bucket of My Week.

  2. Update your Settings. Go into your Settings > Workflow > Automators Tab and turn on the setting, “When work changes from Planned to In Progress, update its start date”. This will ensure that the Work start date will be updated when you move your Tax work into the status, “In Progress”.

  3. Update your status to get started. When you’re ready to start a particular piece of work—perhaps because your client has provided you with their documentation—go to that work item and update the status to “In Progress”. Alternatively, just complete a Task and Karbon will update the work item to In Progress. This will update the work start date to today’s date.

  4. Note: Due dates. One thing to note is that Task due dates will not get updated when you update the work start date. However, if you’d like to update these, you can do this in bulk from the piece of work. On each Task section, click the options menu (...) and select “Set due dates”.

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